Camelon Juniors 2-4 Dundonald Bluebell
Carmuirs Park, Camelon
East Of Scotland Premier Division
A late goals rush at Carmuirs Park helped Dundonald take all three points against 10-man Camelon. It had been all square at halftime after Barry Sibanda’s strike cancelled out Euan Baird’s opener. But Lewis McKenzie’s 10-minute hat-trick gave Bell a comfortable lead, before a James Mackie og in the dying seconds.
Carmuirs is a traditional style of ground, sitting in the middle of a residential area like a lot of the older stadiums do. The approach is tight, through narrow side streets, with the stands of the ground dominating the surrounding houses. Once inside, the ground is compact and a little tired in places. The main stand faces you as you enter through the turnstiles, running along the far touchline. There’s another covered enclosure opposite, which currently doubles as the away team dugout, with the social club behind. There’s plenty of tiered terracing behind one goal and around towards the main stand, with grassy banked viewing behind the other goal. That end is surrounded by back gardens, and one local resident has built his own two-man stand at the foot of his garden.
When the game got underway, the home side made a quick start, Baird and Stevenson in search of an early opener. But Gay way equal to it, covering the ground and getting in the challenges to help out his defence. There wasn’t a lot between the two sides in the first half really. Bluebell probably shaded it in terms of possession and chances created, but Camelon looked lively on the counterattack, their front men looking like they had the edge when it came to pace. Camelon’s best early chance came from Gould shot that just squeezed past the post with the keeper beaten, while at the other end, Carstairs went close with a header that grazed the crossbar. Both keepers had a couple of saves to make, but it was all pretty routine stuff.
It was Camelon that opened the scoring on the half hour, capitalising on a defensive mistake from the visitors. It came from a ball played high into the Bluebell half that Murray Carstairs seemed to have covered. But the big centre half mistimed his header and Baird was quick to react, sprinting forward, one-on-one with Marley and calmly sticking it past the keeper.
The goal probably came slightly against the run of play and Dundonald looked a bit shocked to find themselves behind. They recovered quickly though and had got themselves level within six minutes. The equaliser was a bit messy - Bluebell had a couple of bites at the cherry and Camelon just couldn’t deal with the danger. In the end Carstairs’ shot looked like it might just be squeezing inside the post, but Sibanda was on hand to make sure. Camelon were unhappy, as it looked like he might be in an offside position, but the ref waved away the protests and the sides went in level at the break.
The second half was delayed slightly due to a summer downpour, but when it did get underway, it was more of the same from both sides. Bluebell winning the midfield battle and edging it on possession, Camelon looking dangerous on the break, both keepers being worked, but not too hard. There were a few chunky challenges on both sides, but the ref was letting them get on with it and the game was all the better for it. The turning point came after 75 minutes when Jay Sandison, who was already on a yellow for a challenge on McKenzie, went down theatrically in the Dundonald box. The ref had no hesitation whipping out a second yellow and the hosts were down to ten men.
If Camelon were unhappy with that decision, they were furious just seconds later when one of the Bluebell players seemed to go down easily at the corner flag in the opposite end, but the ref took no action. They then immediately conceded a corner when it looked like the last touch came from a blue shirt. Bell wasted no time making the extra man advantage count though, McKenzie heading home Drummond’s corner with the home defence still trying to re-organise.
Dundonald extended their lead on the very next attack, McKenzie punishing more slack defending with a run beyond the back line, finished low past Binnie with the home defence looking for an offside flag. Five minutes later, McKenzie completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot, the referee angering the home side once more (although they can’t have had too much to complain about in this instance).
With four or five refereeing decisions going against them in double quick time, the hosts were in danger of losing their composure completely and it looked like Bluebell might get an early season boost to their goal difference. Binnie and the woodwork combined to keep Gay from getting his name on the scoresheet and with the fresh legs of subs Jack Smith & Liam Craig, the visitors looked a threat with every move. As it turned out, the final goal came at the other end, Mackie slicing a front post cross past his own keeper with seconds left on the watch.
Camelon’s protests continued after the whistle, the players, coaching staff and officials all taking turns remonstrating with the referee. Even the ground staff got in on the act, one helper taking a moment out from corner flag collecting duties to make his feelings known, along with a couple of unpleasant shouts from the two-man stand. You have to have some sympathy with Camelon after some questionable refereeing, but it made for an ugly end to what had been a decent game.
The win lifts Dundonald into fifth spot in the table, with ten points from six games, while Camelon have a point less in ninth place having played two games fewer.
Man Of The Match: There were a couple of candidates in the Dundonald midfield, Chris Gay and Ross Drummond both having a decent afternoon. But it was Lewis McKenzie that really caught the eye with a fine display capped off with a quick-fire hat-trick.
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